UT leaders present vision for on-campus housing at trustee committee meeting

October 18, 2013 | News, UToday
By Jon Strunk

University officials presented to the UT Board of Trustees Finance Committee Oct. 7 a preliminary housing plan designed to ensure on-campus housing continues to meet the evolving needs and expectations of prospective students in the years ahead.

UT Provost Scott Scarborough asked trustees for feedback as he laid out a proposal in line with the Imagine 2017 Main Campus strategic plan to continue developing the Gateway project, cultivate an Academic Honors Village on the northwest corner of campus, and renovate and/or raze older residence halls based on projected housing needs.

“We’ve already begun the effort to house students in the Jesup Scott Honors College closer to the academic buildings north of the Ottawa River,” Scarborough said, referencing the renovation of MacKinnon Hall and the demolition of Dowd, White and Nash halls. “As the Honors College grows, we want to increase renovated and new housing and create a living environment where UT’s strongest students can grow academically.”

Scarborough said the Academic Honors Village would include renovations to Scott and Tucker halls to create additional single-person rooms. It also would include a third-party-funded housing unit where Dowd, White and Nash Halls once stood.

With the number of high school seniors declining, UT is already working to rebalance its enrollment population by bringing in additional adult students. This reality, combined with the suggested new third-party housing unit, could enable UT to consider razing Carter Hall, Scarborough said, suggesting the space could be used to bring athletic fields from the Scott Park Campus to Main Campus and increase student engagement.

In addition to Scarborough’s informational presentation on student housing, the Finance Committee also took action on an appropriation of $13.2 million in operating funds to pay for capital projects, equipment and renovations, recommending the slate of projects to the full board for approval.

Among the projects recommended to the full board were:

• New emergency power backup generation for UTMC;

• New boilers and chillers for Main Campus heating and cooling;

• Needed East Parking Ramp repairs following structural failures discovered during a recent inspection;

• Renovations to Scott and Tucker halls to provide Honors College housing;

• Renovations to Kobacker as UT Medical Center works with Horizon Health, which will help develop and manage UTMC’s geriatric psychiatry service; and

• Cutting-edge radiation therapy equipment for the Eleanor N. Dana Cancer Center.

“As state budgets are stressed, capital funding for universities hasn’t been able to keep pace to the degree we need it to,” UT President Lloyd Jacobs said. “While some of these investments won’t be obvious on a daily basis, all of them will ensure the campus is a stronger, safer place to learn and receive a top-tier education.”

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